Date: November 21, 2018
Location: NEC Arena, Birmingham, England
Commentators: Vic Joseph, Nigel McGuinness
We’re at the semifinals of the tournament now and that means we should be getting to the final in another week or two. Other than that it’s…well fallout from whatever happened an hour ago which the announcers, who aren’t actually in the arena, will call last week. I’m sure someone we’ve seen recently will be around. Let’s get to it.
NXT UK Women’s Title Semifinals: Rhea Ripley vs. Dakota Kai
There’s some history here as Kai eliminated her from the first Mae Young Classic. The fans sound like they’re behind Kai, even as Ripley takes her down with a test of strength. Ripley sits her on the top for a slap to the face, only to get kicked in the jaw to even things up. A rollup gives Kai two and Ripley is looking annoyed. Some kicks to the chest send Ripley bailing to the floor and a pair of running soccer kicks make it even worse.
Back in and Ripley tosses her down to take over again as there’s only so much you can do against that kind of size and power advantage. Ripley hits a basement dropkick for two and some hard forearms to the back have Kai in even more trouble. Another dropkick gives Ripley another two as Vic says Kai hasn’t been able to get out of the gates. She was out of the gates earlier, but Ripley knocked her back into the gates. Get your horse metaphors straight.
The standing Texas Cloverleaf has Kai in pain until she can make it to the ropes for the break. Kai finally comes back with some forearms and a running dropkick into the corner, followed by the running facewash. The running big boot gives Kai two but Ripley is right back with a face first drop onto the apron. As you might expect, the much bigger Ripley talks trash but has to counter the Kairopractor. Riptide sends Ripley to the finals at 9:51.
Rating: C. These two have chemistry together and the size difference alone makes for a great David vs. Goliath visual. Ripley winning is the right call as Kai is already over just based on her charisma alone. There’s a good chance that she’ll win the title and that wouldn’t be bad at all for a first accomplishment.
Sid Scala, in a suit, is very pleased to get an opportunity in two weeks against Joe Coffey.
Jordan Devlin is calling Pete Dunne out for a title shot. Dunne has held the title for a long time but he hasn’t faced the serious competition. When Devlin wins the title, this place is becoming NXT Ireland Featuring The UK.
Flash Morgan Webster/Mark Andrews vs. Saxon Huxley/Joseph Conners
The much bigger Huxley sends Webster into the corner to start as the fans sing about wanting to know something. Webster comes back with a hurricanrana out of the corner and a dropkick is enough for the tag off to Andrews. Conners comes in as well and gets rolled into a double stomp to the chest. It’s back to Huxley to throw Andrews down hard as the villains start in on the lower back.
A few corner clotheslines set up an armbar to keep Andrews down. Andrews’ jawbreaker isn’t enough for the tag but he rolls away from Huxley for the hot tag off to Webster. Something like a Whisper in the Wind drops Huxley and there’s a flip dive off the apron to take Conners down as well. Huxley is back up and grabs Webster, ignoring Conners’ offer of a tag. That’s enough for Webster to tag Andrews and the Eton Rifle (a spinning reverse DDT) into Fall to Pieces for the pin at 6:10. Conners didn’t try to make a save.
Rating: D+. Neither team is exactly exciting but Andrews and Webster are fine enough for a high flying team. Conners and Huxley are your run of the mill annoyed villains team and that’s not exactly a rare concept around here. Both of them could use a little spice and I don’t see that happening if they’re just teaming together.
Post match Conners lays Huxley out. Good, as Conners and Huxley weren’t doing anything for me anyway. The fans calling Conners a sinner and then Judas for beating down Huxley was rather funny.
Dave Mastiff vs. Tyson T-Bone
Battle of the big men here, even though T-Bone isn’t all that huge. Mastiff stands in the middle and T-Bone circles around him while throwing some punches. That just annoys Mastiff, who shoves him into the corner. T-Bone hammers away and kicks Mastiff down, including some elbows to the back. We hit the neck crank on Mastiff, who gets smart by bearhugging his way to freedom. For some reason T-Bone tries a sunset flip, earning himself some bad chest pain. Some right hands and a headbutt rock T-Bone, setting up a suplex to send him flying. The Cannonball finishes T-Bone at 4:41.
Rating: D. Mastiff is someone where you get the idea as soon as you see him. He moves pretty well for a big man and he can do enough things to make him look good. T-Bone seems to be a tough guy with a boxing background, but I didn’t get the story here. Is T-Bone supposed to be big? Or was this a toughman fight? Then again Mastiff isn’t exactly the definition of tough, and the match didn’t quite click. I mean, the match wouldn’t have worked that well with a better story either so this was kind of doomed from the start.
Devlin gets his title shot next week.
We look at how Jinny and Toni Storm made it to the next round. Why didn’t we get this for Ripley and Kai?
NXT UK Women’s Title Tournament Semifinals: Jinny vs. Toni Storm
Jinny gets the PRIMARK PRINCESS chant as they lock up to start. That goes nowhere so they glare at each other a bit instead. An armdrag gives Jinny control and she puts a knee in Toni’s face to keep her down. Back up and Toni’s wristlock doesn’t get her very far so she goes with a running boot to the chest instead. A modified STF has Jinny in trouble but she fights up and gets two off a suplex into the corner.
Jinny grabs an armbar to keep Storm down and then pulls her down by the hair for a bit of viciousness. The armbar goes on again as Jinny isn’t exactly impressing me here. Toni fights up and snaps off a headbutt but they both go down. The slugout from the knees goes to Toni, who gets in a hard German suplex.
A fisherman’s suplex gets two and Toni goes up but has to kick Jinny off. For some reason Toni takes so much time that Jinny is able to get back up and dropkick her onto the middle buckle. That means an elevated X Factor for two on Toni and an ax kick is good for the same. Toni is right back up with a German suplex and Storm Zero sends her to the finals at 10:31.
Rating: B-. I finally got around to seeing some more from Jinny in Progress (including a match from Storm) and it’s rather clear that she’s not going at full strength here. Jinny is a much better character than “she cares about fashion” and that really limits her matches on this show. Her wrestling isn’t her strongest point to start and if you take away the character stuff that makes her work so well, she’s kind of stuck. Storm winning was obvious, but it was nice to get a good match on the way there.
Storm stares at the title so Ripley comes out to shove her.
Overall Rating: C. The main event bailed out what was an otherwise not exciting show and we’re setting up for an interesting final in the next week or so. The show still has some hit or miss results with the storytelling and the character work, but the bigger stories are clicking and that’s what matters most. Keep things moving in that direction and they’re onto something here.
Rhea Ripley b. Dakota Kai – Riptide
Flash Morgan Webster/Mark Andrews b. Joseph Conners/Saxon Huxley – Fall to Pieces to Huxley
Dave Mastiff b. Tyson T-Bone – Cannonball
Toni Storm b. Jinny – Storm Zero
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